Television Crossover Universe Podcast: Matthew Dennion

Atomic Rex

In recent days I’ve become co-host of Super Entertainment’s Television Crossover Universe Podcast. As the title suggests, the hosts discuss crossovers. As the title does not suggest, it discusses crossovers from every medium across creation: novels, short stories, comic books, film, audio dramas, plays, and, of course, how could I ever pretend to forgive, television. We’re cheeky like that.

The most recent episode, episode 10, featured a round-table discussion with Matthew Dennion, author of kaiju novels and French pulp stories.

Check it out here. We greatly appreciate ratings and reviews on iTunes. They keep the show going.

A Thorough Review: M.H. Norris’ Badge City: Notches

The genre has decayed.

Since the 1970s, when Agatha Christie breathed her last and one half of Ellery Queen’s soul went the same way as Solar Pons’ creator, the mystery genre has been on a downward trend. Mystery novels grow fatter as the plots grow thinner–and gone are the classic detectives, and cases that turn on logic and clues rather than gore.

Badge City Notches

In Badge City: Notches, M.H. Norris does much to overturn these trends. Instead of a 100 page mystery spread out over the length of a phone book, we have a plot perfectly suited to its length. Norris, refreshingly, follows the dictums of Golden Age mystery: A) She plays fair with the reader. Though, at times, one wishes for a greater pool of suspects…Norris uses her pool to build into a perfectly realized twist of the knife which would do Christie proud. If you pay careful attention, and aren’t one to get hung up on well-placed red herrings, you just might realize who the killer is before Detective Torando. B) The character work is secondary to the mystery. In recent years, I’ve read a number of bestselling mysteries that have–and I counted the pages–50 pages of plot to 200 pages of backstory, character development, and long musings on baseball or music. What we’ve been inflicted with are short stories let to grow wild, like mushrooms, until the central stem can no longer support them. Norris wisely avoids this, and it comes across like a sea breeze

Norris’ research into real-life police procedure and abnormal psychology come off the page, and are treated very engagingly. I’m from a family of cops. You get used to authors blundering about, making up every form of insane crap, then championing their own “research.” Aside from some foibles with the climax, she has a wholly realistic police force. Bravo!

The dialogue is flawless and the characters engaging. I wish there had been a mite more descriptive prose, but I’m a Victorian in a world of Tweets (and should probably be ignored). The only thing I find to trip over is that, in the storm of corpses, it can be easy to lose track of which corpse is which. To be fair, I imagine the police feel similarly, so even if this was unintentional it does support the theme and progression of the book.

Frankly, what  issues I personally had shoved aside, this is one of the best modern mysteries I’ve read. And, certainly, the best I’ve found thus far into 2015. Let us raise a glass to Norris, and that she may help to usher in another Golden Age!

M.H. Norris, if you’re reading this, I’m already impatient for the sequel.

You can–and should–buy Badge City: Notches on Amazon, in both print and digital editions.

(Full Disclosure: I edited this book for Pro Se Productions, but receive no remuneration of any kind for either my edit, sales, or this review.)

The Week in Writing (3/25/15)

As days pass, a pregnant woman’s belly grows wider.

As my days pass, the folder of notes and typed-out script scraps grows wider still. This has turned out to be a remarkably easy childbir–project. The characters conform neatly to my pen, and the plot offers only a gentle shrug before being corralled.

The official announcement will come from the publisher tomorrow. Until then, truthfully, all I’m playing is a waiting game.

Classics Illustrated 110_A Study in Scarlet

The fabulous podcast I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere interviewed me for an article/announcement that will be on their site in the near future, regarding an announcement of sorts regarding The Science of Detection. Which, if you’ve been keeping your ear off the ground, is a collection of Sherlock Holmes novellas. I’ll be editing it, and 18thWall Productions will be publishing.

While said IHSE is currently Bojaciuk-less, there’s more than enough there to enjoy for any Holmesian.

Until tomorrow, when my appointment goes from supposition to announcement.

Progress: 10k

A nearly finished script, and a nearly finished story to boot.

 

The Week in Writing (3/16/15)

x2_upright_editWe lost hope.

When the 1950s were over and dead, American science fiction blackened over. Not like something dramatic–a shadow, a cloud, a plague–as it may have hoped, but with all the depth and meaning of over-cooked toast. Scape off the angst, take a knife to the political moaning and pretentious groaning, and you find only one thing: white bread.

Scrape away the remains of most of the popular science fiction, particularly from the 90s-onward when Star Trek and Star Wars had run around exhausted, to find unbaked cynicism.

Scrape away the bitter blackness from Samuel R. Delany (most stories and novels will do, but “Aye, and Gomorrah” is perfect) and you find a pedophile writing about diseased worlds where he can quite readily get away with his preferred madness…

Scrape away the soot from Childhood’s End, and you find an emotional cripple shouting that his opinions are right. There’s no maturity of discussion, as one might expect from a Bardbury, Lewis, or Asimov; nor is there the emotional maturity one finds in, say, Camus, who is quite happy to admit that disagreeing with his own views will not make you any less of a person.

In a way, this all leads to the background of my latest project. It’s too dramatic to say it will be “a restoration of hope to science fiction”; this trend has been underway, in greater and lesser waves, for the better part of a decade by the time I set my pen to paper. But there are few things more pleasant than a war of words; and even if a salvo is late, it should never be held back from battle.

Progress: A few hundred words; most of this week’s writing time has been spent sealing the deal.

Other stories increased by about 2k. An acceptably small count, considering sickness and travel.

 

 

 

Literary Archaeology: “Cemetery Games”

Because Pro Se Productions’ collection Rat-A-Tat: Short Blasts of Pulp has just come off a free weekend, you might have arrived here in a fugue state. You’re dazed. You’re lost. And all the words you can possibly find are “James Bojaciuk did this to me.”

That’s all right. Settle in and take up a cigar. It’ll all make sense in a tick.

Rat-A-Tat Short Blasts of Pulp

One of the things you’ll realize, should you met me (aside from what sexy hair and does he own anything except jeans?) is that I like Sherlock Holmes. That’s a lie. I’m obsessed with him. A Study in Scarlet was the first book I ever read, not in a messy matter of chronology but the first book that opened up reading to me. The first book that mattered. The first book that was more than what most say, “the first book that was my own,” but something all the more vital–it was the first book that could have been life itself.

When Pro Se announced guidelines for short fiction, only one thing occurred to me. Sherlock was around and gaining steam, Elementary was either just starting, or had begun a massive ad campaign, and all around writers were striking up stakes on reinvented Holmeses and new-age Watsons. It was the hit literary fad, for awhile. Some great (Elementary, Locked), others less so.

But they all missed the point.

They made a fatal mistake.

They assumed a Sherlock Holmes could arise in our age: an age of inescapable social conventions, standardized tests which coddle from crib to grave, and an ever-present government. Holmes would have only two options, to attain even a fraction of the power he so readily had in his native age: find himself drafted into a higher power (which Elementary and Sherlock have both played with), or drop-out deadbeat into the criminal classes.

Thus we have Lel. The result of a wasted intellect, and constantly called lower into the dregs.

Paget_Holmes and the Gasogene

Watson would fare better, if reborn into this age. There’s any number of hipsters and millennial (a class I unfortunately belong to) who get by simply on the idea of writing. That Watson would actually write, and write memoirs of his own life, would make him a god among his class the way the true Holmes was among his. But that was altogether too easy, and too cute. Thus we’ve not taken his silver-tongue writing, but we have made it unintelligible. He’s eastern European (probably) and so uncertain in his new tongue that there’s no hope he’ll ever set down a record of his adventures.

Thus we have Kiprianov. The result of a displaced person, but still brave and honorable and military-trained.

And, calling back to A Study in Scarlet, their very first story involves a man named Stamford bringing them together. Of course, he’s dead; but a shovel and some sweat can certainly bring him back up to the surface…

Is it my greatest story? Not by a long shot.

But dang if I didn’t have the time of my life writing it.

~~~~~

You can buy Rat-A-Tat: Short Blasts of Pulp right here.

Note for Crossover Fanatics: Kiprianov and Lel do not take the place of Holmes and Watson in a given shared universe; the habitant of the grave they dig up, Stamford, is intended to be the grandson of the Stamford who brought Holmes and Watson together; the serial killer with a thing for left hands is an invention of M.H. Norris, though he has yet to appear in print (but goes to show she has a thing for serial killers); daring readers may choose to interpret the gravestone marked Zalgo as a Great Old One’s toe-hold on our reality.